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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2007
Having grown rather tired of this fall's onslaught of violent R-rated films, this movie is a welcome change and it's better than you might think.

Of course, there is nothing original about this film. We have another action actor who wants to prove he is something more than that. We've experienced this when Arnold went from The Terminator to being a Kindergarten Cop, when Clint Eastwood quit being Dirty Harry to become Every Which Way but Loose, and Vin Diesel gave up being The Fast and the Furious to being The Pacifier. Now Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson wants us to forget his action hero status for a more family friendly guy in "The Game Plan" by Disney.

This film has all the traditional "fish out of water" cliches you can imagine and silly humor that is a staple in all Disney live action films; however, most are forgivable here. The "fish out of water" element is handled well-enough although very predictable. As the characters grow, it is also quite touching. I thought the humor was of the "hit and miss" variety. Miss: child lost in bubble bath. Hit: allergy to cinnamon. I have to say though in all fairness that the hits are hysterical and overshadow the misses (as annoying as they are).

The plot is relatively simple in that a self-obsessed football hero is suddenly saddled with a child he never knew he had; however, and I won't spoil it, there are some very interesting twists to this set up that are not as predictable as most of the other elements in this film. Most character in this film are stereotypes that don't development and, quite frankly, don't need to. It's The Rock's character that needs to grow and he does and does so in a surprisingly believable manner.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been a better actor than he's been given credit for being. I feel much the same way about Vin Diesel. Both of these current action stars have proven themselves in a number of films and with both now having ventured into family comedy, they are growing as actors. The Rock in this film is really quite a surprise in that we learn that not only can he hold a tune nicely, he does a pleasing take on Elvis's "Are You Lonesome Tonight", but he is also an accomplished enough actor to cry on cue. Yup, you read that right! It is not a digital effect; he actually cries on cue without a break or cutaway in the take to add fake tears. I was rather impressed with that.

I was also impressed with the surprising comic performance turned in by Kyra Sedgwick (TV's "The Closer, and A.K.A. Mrs. Kevin Bacon). She isn't over-the-top evil like Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians & 102 Dalmatians, but she is malicious and has a gift for delivering quick one-liners. She is completely enjoyable in her evil little role here.

This light fare is a surprisingly better film than I expected and it's #1 opening at the box-office suggests that I'm not alone in that evaluation. Take a break from the sex and violence currently splattering in our multiplex and go enjoy a film with your whole family that might move you more than you might expect it to.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 28, 2007
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson extends his considerable talents to this family-friendly film. Though the premise is a familiar one (a self-centered playboy discovers the joys of fatherhood), Johnson's charm and sincerity make it worth the watch. Likewise, Roselyn Sanchez does a tremendous job in her role as ballet-instructor Monique Vasquez. Her real-life dance-training is showcased in a poignant performance with Johnson and the children (this is one of the more enchanting scenes in the film ... it is guaranteed maintain your attention).

Disney does a spectacular service to dancers and athletes alike. Quick-cuts between the football field and the ballet studio illustrate the rigors and grace of both. It shows how the two are not entirely dissimilar. This moment is well-crafted! And, yes, I know this has become a somewhat hackneyed trope, but a child will not view it as such.

Now, the character of Peyton Kelly (played by nine-year-old Madison Pettis) may prove a little jarring. While Pettis' acting is respectable, the writing for her character feels a little "off." While her "sassiness" can occasionally translate as amusing, it can too often seem acrid (such as when she launches into the "tone-deaf" bit after the potentially "tear-jerking" "Are You Lonesome Tonight" serenade). This becomes softer as the film progresses (or the audience simply becomes acclimated to her impudence) and it is certainly not jolting enough to prohibit viewing.

Most of the critical reviewers have panned this work (and I really do mean "most"). Yes, it is painfully formulaic (you can predict the entire film in the first fifteen minutes ... but what do you expect from a Disney film). Yes, the writing for Pettis' character is insulting (not all children are jaded and rude). Yes, portraying football players as "dumb" (especially in the case of Hayes MacArthur's character, Kyle Cooper) is both trite and unfair. Yes, it is another film with an Elvis soundtrack (we all saw "Lilo and Stitch"). And, yes, that Disney cannot manage to create a film without references to "bodily functions" is disappointing. BUT, "The Game Plan" does have moments of great tenderness: this is especially evident in Morris Chestnut's character of Travis Sanders. Sanders is both an athlete and a family-man. Throughout the film, he remains a strong example of a man who is both a gifted player and a devoted dad. (And, yes, maybe that's trite too, but it is also a much needed reminder).

While critics may not recommend this work, I believe that both parents and children will find it worthy of their time. One is hesitant to use such a word, but here it is ... the film is ... cute. So there.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has had his fair share of battles in the wrestling ring. He was also a part of the Miami Hurricanes football team. He combines the giant ego of "The Rock" in WWE and his football skills to create Joe Kingman, a pro football player who's got everything but a championship ring. He even has something that he doesn't know he has--a daughter. On top of his game, his ego crashes hard when young Peyton (Madison Pettis) shows up at his front door. Never having any sort of responsibilities before, Kingman tries to juggle his football career, his high profile lifestyle and his new daughter. All the while his agent, a devilishly funny Kyra Sedgwick, tries to figure out if little Peyton is the real deal, or just another opportunist trying to get her hands on a piece of the Kingman pie. Will Kingman get his priorities straight, or will he succumb to the fast and easy lifestyle his lived for so long?

Rosalyn Sanchez heads up a solid supporting cast of actors and actresses who you may not be familiar with (excepting Morris Chesnut, playing a solid father-figure teammate). The story is generic and highly unoriginal, but the solid performances of the entire cast and the wholesome, family-geared direction make this story more than worthy of four stars. Everybody, even the quasi-villain Sedgwick, is likeable. Johnson shows his singing chops that wrestling fans will already be familiar with. He also has that million-dollar smile that lights up the screen. Young Pettis steals most of her scenes, even though she could be accused of boosting the sugar content a bit too much at times. Johnson's teammates are also enjoyable to watch on the screen. Their chemistry with Johnson, each other and with young Pettis is great.

If you long for the days of sugary Disney live-action family features such as the original "Herbie" films and "The Apple Dumpling Gang," "The Game Plan" is a welcome treat. It's a rare family comedy that the entire family will enjoy. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Rock is not a particularly good actor and The Gameplan is a hokey movie. But if you have children like I do, then this movie will pull on all the right heartstrings. There's a bunch of these movies where a child that someone didn't know about comes into their life at just the wrong moment. Things are hard at first, then they get things going smoothly, just to have a final big bump in the road that must be overcome. We all know the plot, but it never hurts to see a movie that reminds you that your kids are the most important thing. Not to mention, my son thought the bulldog in the tutu was hilarious.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The '07 Disney film `The Game Plan' is a predictable but satisfying family film starring the irrepressible Dwayne "Rock" Johnson and adorable little Madison Pettis as newly re-united Father and daughter. Joe Kingman ("Rock") is a superstar professional quarterback just three wins away from an appearance in the Super Bowl when his game plan is suddenly turned upside down when little eight year old Paige (Madison Pettis) appears on his doorstep and claims to be his daughter. Can Joe keep focused on the big prize and cope with instant fatherhood at the same time. If he has any chance to succeed he'll definitely need the right game plan.

No surprises here, just Disney doing what Disney does best, so get the family together and enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This isn't a new premise, of course, the one about men (or women) whose lives are upended when they're unexpectedly saddled with a kid. Off the top of my head, I'd seen this particular plot in films like THE BAD NEWS BEARS, THREE MEN AND A BABY, BIG DADDY, RAISING HELEN, A SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE, SIX PACK, and BABY BOOM. When done right, it's a pretty rewarding premise. Disney's newest family picture, THE GAME PLAN, does it right.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays Joe Kingman, a tough-as-nails but self-absorbed NFL superstar quarterback and the sporting toast of Boston. All is gravy-breezy for Joe as he relishes his bachelor lifestyle, the riches, and fame. But then his world is rocked by the out-of-the-blue arrival of Peyton (Madison Pettis), an 8-year-old daughter he never knew he had. With the decision made to have Peyton temporarily stay with him but with lucrative endorsements enticingly on the horizon, Joe's hardnosed agent Stella (Kyra Sedgwick) urges him to keep the news of his fatherhood a secret for now.

This results in the sophisticated-for-a-durn-kid Peyton extorting ballet classes out of Joe. The ballet teacher is played by lovely actress Roselyn Sanchez, who doesn't recognize Joe and talks him into not only participating in ballet class but also being part of an upcoming play, in which he'll play a tree. With his team the Boston Rebels hard charging towards a championship season, Joe finds himself juggling fatherhood with his gridiron profession and straying from his erstwhile carefree lifestyle. How will it turn out? (hint: this is a Disney film).

Yessir, THE GAME PLAN trots out a predictable story. But it's a lot of fun, and that trumps all the cliches. The Rock in a cute movie? Absolutely true. I just got back from a special screening of this film and it proved to be the perfect solution to a rain-plagued Saturday night. This is the Rock's first collaboration with Disney and it's a touchdown (feel free to groan). And, what's more, he's got another Disney film in the works (WITCH MOUNTAIN, reteaming him with THE GAME PLAN director Andy Fickman).

The Rock is the featured star but he gets capable assists from a willing supporting cast boasting the likes of Kyra Sedgwick, Morris Chestnut, and Roselyn Sanchez. Madison Pettis is a natural talent and shines as the very smart, classical music-inclined Peyton, deftly handling her wealth of lines and managing to avoid the child actor landmine of being coy and sickeningly cute.

But, make no mistake, it's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's natural charisma which makes it all work. Whether he belongs with a serious script is yet undetermined, although he did very well in GRIDIRON GANG. But it's in the comedy or comedy-action films that he's speedily reached a comfort level. To me, a key is that, while he seems to take his cinematic career seriously, he's not averse to poking fun at his image, much in the mold of Arnold in KINDERGARTEN COP and TWINS. This trait is never more in the spotlight than in this film as he suffers the ignominy of having his daughter dress up his dog Spike in a tutu and even poisoning him with a cookie ("Thinammon? I'm allergic to thinammon!"). One of the funniest moments in the film, by the way, happens during the allergy sequence as Joe attempts to press on with his television spot promos ("Boston Rebels - expewience tha heat!").

Too, the Rock takes advantage of Joe's quirky combination of fastidiousness and machismo to mine laughter from the audience. On one hand, he listens to Elvis and is a neat freak (he doesn't like fingerprints on his fridge). On the other hand, God help you if you don't use napkins and coasters in his crib. And to further punctuate his cluelessness with the state of fatherhood, he relates to Peyton in terms of football playcalling and acts much like a baby himself. The Rock is a natural at all this, handling the comedy elements with ease and dexterity. His athleticism and sheer physical presence are always assets, but, coming in particularly handy for this film is his football background - he was a defensive tackle on the 1991 NCAA football champs, the Miami Hurricanes. For his acting craft, he did suffer a ruptured Achilles tendon (a fairly common sports injury) during the filming of this picture. How's that for method acting?

The Rock has moved past the flavor of the month and firmly into the category of a leading action star who's here to stay. I'm not exactly sure how his next project'll work out (I did like the original ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN), but I hear that SHAZAM! is around the corner. But all that's in the future. For now, THE GAME PLAN is here and I expect it'll carve hefty inroads into the box office receipts. So, yes, definitely, go check this one out. You probably won't see the Rock lisp again in cinema.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This isn't a new premise, of course, the one about men (or women) whose lives are upended when they're unexpectedly saddled with a kid. Off the top of my head, I'd seen this particular plot in films like The Bad News Bears,Three Men and a Baby,Big Daddy,Raising Helen (Widescreen Edition),A Simple Twist of Fate,Six Pack, and Baby Boom. When done right, it's a pretty rewarding premise. Disney's newest family picture, THE GAME PLAN, does it right.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays Joe Kingman, a tough-as-nails but self-absorbed NFL superstar quarterback and the sporting toast of Boston. All is gravy-breezy for Joe as he relishes his bachelor lifestyle, the riches, and fame. But then his world is rocked by the out-of-the-blue arrival of Peyton (Madison Pettis), an 8-year-old daughter he never knew he had. With the decision made to have Peyton temporarily stay with him but with lucrative endorsements enticingly on the horizon, Joe's hardnosed agent Stella (Kyra Sedgwick) urges him to keep the news of his fatherhood a secret for now.

This results in the sophisticated-for-a-durn-kid Peyton extorting ballet classes out of Joe. The ballet teacher is played by lovely actress Roselyn Sanchez, who doesn't recognize Joe and talks him into not only participating in ballet class but also being part of an upcoming play, in which he'll play a tree. With his team the Boston Rebels hard charging towards a championship season, Joe finds himself juggling fatherhood with his gridiron profession and straying from his erstwhile carefree lifestyle. How will it turn out? (hint: this is a Disney film).

Yessir, THE GAME PLAN trots out a predictable story. But it's a lot of fun, and that trumps all the cliches. The Rock in a cute movie? Absolutely true. I just got back from a special screening of this film and it proved to be the perfect solution to a rain-plagued Saturday night. This is the Rock's first collaboration with Disney and it's a touchdown (feel free to groan). And, what's more, he's got another Disney film in the works (WITCH MOUNTAIN, reteaming him with THE GAME PLAN director Andy Fickman).

The Rock is the featured star but he gets capable assists from a willing supporting cast boasting the likes of Kyra Sedgwick, Morris Chestnut, and Roselyn Sanchez. Madison Pettis is a natural talent and shines as the very smart, classical music-inclined Peyton, deftly handling her wealth of lines and managing to avoid the child actor landmine of being coy and sickeningly cute.

But, make no mistake, it's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's natural charisma which makes it all work. Whether he belongs with a serious script is yet undetermined, although he did very well in GRIDIRON GANG. But it's in the comedy or comedy-action films that he's speedily reached a comfort level. To me, a key is that, while he seems to take his cinematic career seriously, he's not averse to poking fun at his image, much in the mold of Arnold in Kindergarten Cop and Twins. This trait is never more in the spotlight than in this film as he suffers the ignominy of having his daughter dress up his dog Spike in a tutu and even poisoning him with a cookie ("Thinammon? I'm allergic to thinammon!"). One of the funniest moments in the film, by the way, happens during the allergy sequence as Joe attempts to press on with his television spot promos ("Boston Rebels - expewience tha heat!").

Too, the Rock takes advantage of Joe's quirky combination of fastidiousness and machismo to mine laughter from the audience. On one hand, he listens to Elvis and is a neat freak (he doesn't like fingerprints on his fridge). On the other hand, God help you if you don't use napkins and coasters in his crib. And to further punctuate his cluelessness with the state of fatherhood, he relates to Peyton in terms of football playcalling and acts much like a baby himself. The Rock is a natural at all this, handling the comedy elements with ease and dexterity. His athleticism and sheer physical presence are always assets, but, coming in particularly handy for this film is his football background - he was a defensive tackle on the 1991 NCAA football champs, the Miami Hurricanes. For his acting craft, he did suffer a ruptured Achilles tendon (a fairly common sports injury) during the filming of this picture. How's that for method acting?

The Rock has moved past the flavor of the month and firmly into the category of a leading action star who's here to stay. I'm not exactly sure how his next project'll work out (I did like the original ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN), but I hear that SHAZAM! is around the corner. But all that's in the future. For now, THE GAME PLAN is here and I expect it'll carve hefty inroads into the box office receipts. So, yes, definitely, go check this one out. You probably won't see the Rock lisp again in cinema.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2008
I have to admit, being a pro wrestling fan, I do miss Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the ring. That being said, this actually plays to one of his strengths when he was wrestling and that's comedy! Those that watched those glory days in the WWE in the late 90's to 2003 knows what I am talking about.

On this film, he plays a selfish football player who discovers that he has a young daughter (played by Madison Pettis) by his ex-wife. From there, comedic chaos reigns as we get one funny event after another which sees Dwayne's character change from selfish football player into a man that wants to be a part of his daughter's life. Morris Chestnut (who plays one of Dwayne's few friends and teammate) also plays a pivitol role in this film. Roselyn Sanchez (Rush Hour 2) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) also stars in this comedy.

I originally got this as a gift for my mom BUT I ended up watching it for myself and will buy this film for me one day! Its a very good comedy. While I am an action junkie type, some good and clean (for the most part) comedy is good for the soul here and there. High recommendation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2008
THE GAME PLAN is a hilarious heartwarming family comedy where one of the sports toughest players meets his biggest challenge - his daughter and learning fatherhood. Joe Kingman played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is preparing for the championship games when his 8-year-old daughter Payton shows up with no notice at his apartment with the news that he has a daughter. When Joe puts all the pieces together with his agent their first concern is his career but as the movie moves on we see Joe's mentality turn from superstar to dad. As he gets closer to the big championship, he gets some quick lessons in being a father and making the difference to the most important fan in his life his daughter.

The movie is the perfect family movie and I give Disney two thumbs up for this one. Dwayne Johnson & Madison Pettis make the perfect father daughter team. It is a classic to add to any family's collection
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 24, 2007
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays Joe Kingman, a narcissistic football star that is enjoying every aspect of his fame. The movie starts to become fun when his previously unknown about and sassy daughter is left at his doorstep. All this happens just as his team is entering into the playoffs. Joe Kingman has to learn to care for her and become a good father, while at the same time handling the media attention and leading his football team. In this movie we also have Roselyn Sanchez who is great in her role as ballet-instructor Monique Vasquez.

As others have said, the movie is predictable. But then again this is made for the whole family and the formula works. I do think that they went too far with his daughter's attitude. Though she is portrayed as cute and witty at times, I think it goes a little too far. But even with all that, this is a movie that a father will not mind seeing with his daughter. This movie will make you laugh. I would recommend that you take your kids to the matinee and see it.
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